The Awesome Job of Parenting
I gave birth at the age of twenty-nine to a son. The pregnancy and resulting birth were an event that would change my life forever. When we speak of the miracle of birth, it entails a mystery that quickly humbles parents and often renders one speechless.
I learned that pregnancy has its privileges. Being indulged in cravings was a bonus that was supported by my husband and extended family. Rest breaks were sanctioned on my job as well as special treatment from the customers. It was a time of celebration. As the pregnancy progressed, I attended the Lamaze childbirth classes. I quickly learned to identify fellow participants upon arrival at the hospital to see a couple with a pillow, and when one of the pair was very pregnant, it became a quick way of telling who was on their way to the Lamaze class. I dutifully attended the class and learned to perfect my “huffs and puff.” My husband was my attentive coach and partner.
A word of wisdom was given to me as I embarked upon participating in this wonderful miraculous event. I was told to enjoy the experience, and I did. Although there were times that I was nauseous, sleepy, uncomfortable, and irritable, it was far outweighed by the feeling of exhilaration that I felt at the first flutter of movement of my son in my womb. It was followed by the countless learning experiences that I enjoyed as I watched him grow from a baby to a man. Along the years I have been moved to such pride that it seemed that my heart would burst. My tears have been tears of joy, joy that God entrusted this wonderful creation to my guidance and care. From the moment that I brought him from the hospital, I felt a sense of inadequacy and vulnerability. I questioned how they could allow someone as inexperienced as I to take this baby home. Fortunately for me and my son, my husband had some experience and that saved the day.
After six weeks, I was released to go back to work. My husband stayed home and kept the baby. He was not a baby sitter, he was raising his child. My husband, a disabled veteran, was unable to work outside of the home but he was able to spend time with our son and help give him a sense of security. My son developed a large vocabulary at a young age due to interactions with his father. He was not home schooled, his father simply responded to his natural curiosity. The only time that he was in day care was when my husband had doctor appointments.
As a little boy we spoke to him directly, making eye to eye contact. We spent lots of time playing with him, as he was the center of our home. His first job of helping me was unloading the dishwasher. He would pass me the silverware and I would respond, “Thank You,” as he rushed to give me another piece. I taught him table manners when he was still in the high chair. It was at that time that I discovered that he was left handed. He learned the hand that he did not eat with went “under the table.” We were often complimented on his behavior in restaurants. He was never a finicky eater and was very clear on what he wanted to eat. Sometimes adult friends were amazed that we would ask a kid what he wanted and not relegate him to the children’s limited menu. One of his favorite childhood foods were green beans, and sometimes requested them for breakfast, and got it. Before he cut his molars, he was at breakfast in a restaurant with his father having pancakes when he tried to eat bacon and got choked. His dad quickly pulled the bacon out of his throat, saving his life.
We did not study books about child rearing but did listen to family and friends. The abiding driver was the love that we felt for this child. His safety and welfare was the number one guidance tool that we used. He always woke up happy. We would play with him in our bed until it was time for him to go to bed and we took him to his room. From the time he came home from the hospital, he had his own room. I breast fed him and would go to his room at night and nurse him, holding him until he went back to sleep. That sense of being one with nature and feeling of peace was a priceless experience.
By the time he started to school, he had traveled across the United States and back again. My husband had been married twice before and we had a discussion early in the marriage. If we broke up, we both determined that we loved our son too much to give him up so we said that we would be unable to break up because of the love we had for him. We taught him mutual respect of parents and adults. As he grew, we spent quality family time together, talking, laughing, and riding in the car. Time went by far too fast but I treasure the time that he was growing up, went away to college, and moved away. It is not over yet. Parenting is a lifelong adventure. Trust your heart. Enjoy the ride.